In both ADP workstreams, Parties have begun taking positions on the future of CBDR. Some see a global spectrum approach as the way forward. Others advocate a system in which the annexes are nuanced and differentiated. Whatever happens, ECO sees the need for a dynamic system that differentiates on the basis of equity principles.
Tag: effort sharing
Is equity really the pathway to ambition? ECO is here to say that it had better be. Without equity, nothing else will work. Which is to say that nothing else will work well enough. Without equity the story of the low carbon, climate resilient transition will be a story of “too little, too late.” And as the scientists are anxiously telling us – see, recently, the World Bank’s Turn Down the Heat report – this is a story without a happy ending.
Let’s admit the public secret that we all already know – equity will either be shaped into a pathway to ambition or inequity will, assuredly, loom before us as an altogether unscalable wall. We can see how this would happen. The US – while insisting that it’s pushing bravely past the sterile politics of an obsolete North/South firewall – has managed to purge CBDR (and RC) from all official texts. But to what effect? For an overwhelming majority of Parties, absence of new equity language affirms the obvious. The Convention language applies. Has the US noticed that actions provoke reactions?
The head of the US delegation has rejected the Annexes as “anachronistic,” and has gone on to call for “the differentiation of a continuum, with each country expected to act vigorously in accordance with its evolving circumstances, capabilities and responsibilities.” It’s a good idea, though alas it suffers by its association with the US's aggressive – and often abrasive – drive to destroy 1997’s Kyoto Protocol. Coming into Doha, ECO can only wonder if this unfortunate picture is about to change. With President Obama’s re-election, there’s a chance to reset Washington’s international strategy, tactics and personnel. There won’t be many more chances before 2015.
Meanwhile, the position is obvious. The ambitious, global principle-based regime that we need can only come by way of a creative elaboration of the Convention’s principles, CBDR/RC first among them. So, yes Mr. Stern, we need a dynamic approach, one that takes the evolving realities of this mad and dangerous world into full account. Which is to say that we’re not going to get it without an approach to dynamism that is widely accepted as both procedurally and substantively fair.
Where does this leave us? With a desperate situation in which all wealthy countries must quickly do their part to close the short-term emissions gap. This, fortunately, is a goal that can be agreed politically and legally within the bounds of the existing accords and treaties, but only if Parties negotiate in good faith. In particular, existing commitments – to mitigate and to support the mitigation and adaptation of others – must be achieved. Beyond the short-term, a new accord will be needed, a more challenging accord that we’re not going to get without a vocal and political commitment to make “equitable access to sustainable development” into something real. This, in turn, will demand a robust negotiation on creative, principle-based approaches to sharing the long-term global costs and opportunities of mitigation and adaptation.
There’s still time to launch the ADP with high and cooperative ambitions. But, frankly, there’s not much time left. What’s needed now is courage and real statesmanship. The Obama Administration, for its part, has to begin negotiating for a regime that’s fair enough to actually work. And the G77’s negotiators must do better as well. When BASIC Ministers, writing in their September declaration, called for “an enhanced global effort to be implemented after 2020, under the UNFCCC, which would respect the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and differentiation between Annex I and non-Annex I Parties,” they weren’t exactly signalling an openness to fresh and expansive approaches to CBDR/RC. Given the current situation, their reticence was understandable, but it didn’t suggest the kind of leadership that we’re going to need in coming years. Perhaps, after Doha, such leadership will finally be on the agenda.
Difficult negotiations lie ahead. How can they best be organized? Equity is quite important enough to get its own work stream. But if this is not to be, we’re confident that either the Vision or Ambition workstreams – or both! – will be more than willing to open their doors to the equity discussion. One way or another, the discussion is going to have to take place, and no one should be foolish enough to believe that, by attempting to push it aside, they’re doing the hard and thankless work of true realism.
Here’s some free advice: Let’s discuss principles first, and having agreed on the keystones (hint: the indispensable points are ambition, capacity, responsibility and the sustainable development rights of the poor) we’ll be in a position to move forward to a practical, non-nonsense conversation about indicators and comparability. We’ll be in a position to move, that is, down the equity corridor – or, if you prefer, up the equity ladder – from principles, by way of indicators, to coherent and reciprocal agreements.
This situation will not be quickly resolved. But there’s not going to be any real trust, or momentum, until equity is a recognized, respected, and foundational part of this negotiation. And – does this still need to be said? – until there’s substantive progress on the finance front as well, for this and only this can translate rhetoric and good intentions into believable action. The good news is that both of these breakthroughs are ours for the taking.
As delegates bounce back to the Maritim, high off their post-Durban buzz, ECO thinks it’s worthwhile reminding them of the gravity of what they are negotiating. Durban very nearly failed. Had it done so, it would have empowered the formidable naysayers across the global economy, providing them with ample fuel to dismiss not only climate change but the multilateral system altogether.
Whilst the Durban outcome was far from perfect, delegates still had the Cancun prophecy ringing in their ears – “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good”. What we got from Durban was an opportunity, as opposed to an outcome, of a hard deadline of 2015. And, importantly, we got the world caring again. When the Indians and Europeans battled it out in the grand “huddle”, determined to come to a resolution, international leaders and investors finally looked up from their navels and took notice.
Now, back in the confines of the Maritim, we need all parties to knuckle down, and begin the long, hard slog to negotiate the final outcome. Opening up old wounds will not prevent climate chaos.
As Cancun pointed out, tactical negotiating will not be enough to secure us a 1.5 degrees C future. Skilled diplomacy has not required any of the critical countries to move beyond the red lines we grew to know, love and hate in Copenhagen. Parties acknowledged that the politics aren’t yet right to secure a fair, ambitious and legally binding deal. But what we got in Durban was a grace period.
The politics of 2015 do, however, provide an opportunity for more ambition compared to 2011. “It’s the economy, stupid”, barely encompasses the political preoccupation across Europe and OECD countries. But by 2015, it is likely that the worst of the recession will be over. And importantly, the rhythm of the electoral cycle across a swathe of key polluters to 2015 gives hope and promise to greater levels of ambition and political commitment. Unless countries recognise the very real danger that climate change poses to their national interests, they will not budge any further than their pre-Copenhagen mandates.
But it’s not only the politics of ambition which need to be mastered. That little old chestnut, common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, also needs some help. And it would appear as if, finally, most Annex 1 countries have received the message loud and clear (ECO does not need to spell it out; we all know who the deaf countries are). Unless a fair settlement is sought, a deal in 2015 is unrealistic. Fairness is not a hurdle towards greater ambition, but a key component to incentivise a successful deal. Scepticism that 2015 will be “Copenhagen the Sequel” misreads the politics since COP15. Anyone daft enough to think politicians and their negotiators would endure another Copenhagen should be doomed to eat Maritim sandwiches for the rest of their lives. 2015 will be very different.
Firstly, a key advantage for 2015 is that the political change we need to see can now be leveraged off significant quantities of low carbon investment and confidence across a broad range of countries. Adding to this, the UNFCCC has made significant progress in defining the mechanisms which can be ramped up to deliver ambition. Secondly, the embryonic Durban Alliance and Cartagena Dialogue can help keep their Annex 1 partners on their toes, and help shape a Fair, Ambitious and Binding (FAB) deal over the years ahead. And finally, 2015 will no doubt be an important milestone on the road to a global low carbon economy, alongside Rio, Qatar and other high profile events.
But we must not focus on the glitz and glamour at the expense of harvesting incremental achievements, building session by session the systems and instruments needed to deliver success along the way. Putting all our eggs in one basket, when the scale of the challenge is enormous, is no longer a feasible option. Parties are now acknowledging that success in 2015 will be measured by a combination of progress inside and outside the UNFCCC, top-down and bottom up measures, in shaping emissions trajectories to 2030.
In Bonn, ECO will not take the promise of post-2020 ambition as an excuse for lack of short-term measures. Broaching the gigatonne gap, outlining ambitious proposals for the review of adequacy and beginning to map out the process for developing an equitable outcome will be vital in securing a 2015 deal. Haggling over the text that has already been gavelled through contradicts the constructive spirit reached in South Africa.
If we are to close the ambition gap, we must also close the equity gap. We’ve known this for years, and the Durban Platform gives us an opportunity to act on this knowledge. The challenge now is to very rapidly build both momentum and trust. They can only be built together. [more]
In the UNFCCC countries agreed to prevent dangerous climate change: to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.
At present they are failing in this task. One element holding them back from the necessary action is the concern that they will be asked to do more than is their fair share, and conversely that other countries will ‘free ride’. A common understanding of fair shares – even if it is only approximate – can help overcome this trust barrier and lead to higher levels of ambition from all.
This paper adds to the understanding of what an equitable effort sharing agreement might look like. It outlines the fundamental effort sharing principles contained in the UNFCCC and expands on these principles, presenting an organized set of fundamental and subsidiary principles relevant to assessing fair-share effort-sharing frameworks. It briefly describes thirteen existing frameworks and assesses these frameworks against effort sharing principles.